On October 11 & 12, 2021, the PYP team participated in a 2-day virtual workshop on Approaches to Learning (ATL). The Approaches to Learning, which were previously called Transdisciplinary skills, are integral to the IB program. What are Approaches to Learning? Why is it important in the IB context?
To better understand the role of Approaches to Learning in the IB framework, let us look at the IB PYP model, which represents the program’s essential elements. At the center of the PYP are the Learner Profile attributes, followed by Approaches to Teaching and Learning. The ATLs consist of five interrelated skills: self-management, social, communication, thinking, and research skills. These skills are fundamental to developing our students’ ability to be self-regulated learners and support students’ sense of agency. The ATLs also complement the Learner Profile attributes.
The teachers must interpret the ATL skills appropriately to the grade level they are teaching to then provide authentic learning experiences to support their development. The ATLs (also called life skills), support students to learn effectively and help them take responsibility for their learning.
The first day was focused on inquiring into the Enhanced PYP and Approaches to Learning in the IB continuum. During the workshop, the PYP team engaged in various sessions to develop a deeper understanding of the ATLs as a way for students to acquire and use skills to access learning and explore research-based strategies, emphasizing assessment as learning. The sessions were helpful for the teachers to gain an overview of developing the ATLs across all grade levels.
The second part of the workshop focused on reflecting on the previous day’s learning, strategies for putting theory into practice, and inquiring into the power of transdisciplinary themes and their impact on summative task design. The workshop was productive, evident from the level of participation and engagement of the team. Some of the workshop’s highlights were the opportunity to engage in discussions, share ideas, learn new strategies, address issues for clarification, revisit the unit planner to practice what has been learned, and design a summative task integrating the ATL skills. It was also beneficial to review the “Norms of Collaboration” as a reminder of the importance of essential agreements when working in a group.
For the final task, the team engaged in reflection to focus on next steps and creating an action plan. It was powerful to read the comments and thoughts of the team. Overall, the team will review our current practices and apply the strategies we learned from the workshop.
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Maria Theresa Zialcita (PYP Coordinator & Primary EAL Teacher)